EVERETT — The Everett City Council is taking up an expansion of the ordinance that prevents people arrested for drug crimes from entering certain parts of the city.
As part of a two-year review of the city’s Stay Out of Drug Areas (or SODA) ordinance, the expansion would maintain the geographic prohibitions already in place and add two more: the north Everett neighborhood around Clark Park and Everett High School, and along SE Everett Mall Way.
Both areas have had a high number of drug-related arrests in the past eight months.
Police have received numerous complaints about drug deals and use in Clark Park and within sight of the school. The new SODA zone would be bounded by Everett Avenue, Hoyt Avenue, 23rd Street and Broadway.
The entire length of Everett Mall Way and the two blocks to the north and south of the road also would be added to the list of off-limits areas to people subject to SODA orders. According to crime data, the third-highest number of drug arrests in the city were made in the 1600 block of SE Everett Mall Way.
Smith Avenue had the highest concentration of activity. Police made 56 drug arrests in the past eight months in the block of Smith Avenue that runs by the Everett Gospel Mission and under I-5. That stretch of road is a place where homeless people frequently gather.
The ordinance gives the city an additional tool to combat rampant drug dealing and abuse. People under a municipal judge’s SODA order are prohibited from entering certain parts of the city that have a higher than average level of drug activity.
Those found in those areas are subject to arrest.
“It isn’t a punishment tool. Really, what it is, is a post-conviction (tool). We’re trying to help these people stay out of these areas because that’s where the drug use is,” Everett Police Sgt. Jeff Hendrickson told the City Council on Wednesday.
“Unfortunately there are a lot of people who choose to violate the order,” Hendrickson said.
The language of the ordinance also would be changed to allow a judge to impose a SODA order for attempting to commit a class C felony, such as drug possession, or loitering for the purposes of engaging in drug-related activity.
That way, if a county prosecutor for some reason decides not to pursue a felony drug charge in Superior Court, the city could still impose the SODA order through the municipal court, said Leslie Tidball, Everett’s lead prosecuting attorney.
The new ordinance also gives judges leeway in creating exceptions to the SODA order.
“If a person’s only food or shelter is the mission, then they will be able to get permission to go on certain streets to get to the mission, but they won’t be able to loiter there,” Tidball said.
The SODA ordinance would continue for another two years to cover all the other parts of the city currently included.
Those areas are: almost the entire length of Broadway from 41st street to the north city line; almost the entire length of Hewitt Avenue; Smith Avenue from the 3100 to 4000 blocks and including the Everett Gospel Mission and Everett Station; Rucker Avenue and Evergreen Way from 40th Street south to Airport Road; and W Casino Road from Evergreen Way to Airport Road.
On all of those corridors, the SODA zone extends two blocks on either side of the roadway.
The council is scheduled to vote on the ordinance on May 24.
Chris Winters: 425-374-4165; email@example.com. Twitter: @Chris_At_Herald.